Date of Award

Spring 4-7-2022



Degree Type

Doctor of Education in Curriculum and Leadership


Counseling, Foundations & Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Patricia Patrick, PhD

Second Advisor

Dr. Michael Dentzau, PhD

Third Advisor

Dr. Deborah Gober, PhD


When ranked and compared to students in other countries, students in the United States of America consistently rank below their peers in science knowledge. Among the many recommendations for increasing the science knowledge of students is a merge of informal science education (ISE) and public and private science classrooms.

There is limited research focused on (1) the historical trends of research conducted in informal science education including the methodologies employed and pedagogical practices revealed and (2) the epistemological and pedagogical beliefs of formal science educators, who hold dual positions in the classroom and in an informal science setting. This dissertation includes two studies which are written as articles: (1): the completion of a content analysis of 30 peer-reviewed journal articles from 2006-2021 and one book (Preparing Informal Educators) and (2): a qualitative exploratory case study using photo-elicitation, semi-structured interviews, and an open-ended questionnaire. The results from Article 1 (the content analysis) revealed that informal science educators are often not equipped to implement the needed hands-on active educational methods, creative experiences, and memorable experiences to reach young learners. Article II (a qualitative exploratory case study) examined the epistemological and pedagogical beliefs of 10 science educators working at a local science museum. This two-article dissertation revealed harmonized pedagogical and epistemological beliefs between formal science educators and informal science educators using CoPs.

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